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Food is an integral part of our society, not just a means of sustenance. We gather over meals to celebrate, to do business, to socialize, and to mark major life events. Think of what a birthday would be like without a birthday cake, or a wedding without a reception dinner. There are many opportunities in the culinary arts field. Cooks and bakers work in restaurants, casinos, hotels, resorts, catering, and many other places. It is a field where your skills, knowledge, and talents will always be in demand. However, unless you are a short-order cook at the local greasy spoon, you’ll need a degree in order to work in the industry.

Finding a good culinary program:

Once you start your search for a culinary program, you’ll find that there are many options. In fact, sifting through your options might feel a little overwhelming. Many colleges and universities have culinary programs. In addition to this, there are art schools that include culinary programs and schools that are dedicated cooking and baking schools.

When looking at the different types of schools you can attend, it’s important to examine your choices objectively. First, don’t rule out a traditional college or university with a culinary arts program. Just because it offers a wide variety of degree programs does not mean that it can’t have a top notch culinary program. Second, don’t assume that a culinary arts school is automatically the best choice or will provide the best education.

The most important factor when beginning your list of prospective schools is the quality of the education. There are two things you can research in your preliminary search, accreditation and success. You want a degree program that is accredited, so that you know that some organization is monitoring the quality of your education and to help ensure that your credits will be transferable should you choose to further your education. Success of the school can be measured by the percentage of graduating students that move on to work in the culinary field. Your prospective school should be able to provide you with this statistical information.

Level of education:

Associate level degrees are very popular for those looking to enter the field as soon as possible or for those who are changing careers. It also can be used in conjunction with a business degree for someone who wants to start their own business. Bachelor degrees are becoming more popular because many employers are looking for candidates who possess this level of education.

A graduate level degree provides the education needed to have higher level employment in a kitchen, such as a kitchen manager. Those who want to run a kitchen as well as cook, would do good to get this level of education.

What you will learn:

You will, of course, learn a variety of cooking techniques and methods. In addition, you’ll take general education classes and classes that give you insight into the business and management side of a kitchen. The depth and intensity of your education will depend upon the degree you choose to get.